Carmen Amaya

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1942 at the Lyric, Allentown PA
Statue of Amaya in Jardins de Joan Brossa, Barcelona

Carmen Amaya (2 November 1913 – 19 November 1963) was a flamenco dancer and singer, of gypsy origin, born in the Somorrostro slum of Barcelona, Spain.[1]

She has been called "the greatest Spanish gypsy dancer of her generation".[2] and "the most extrardinary personality of all time in flamenco dance".[3]

She danced from the time she was 4 years old. Accompanied on the guitar by her father, she danced in waterfront bars in Barcelona. A young person who saw her dance as a girl was the Spanish guitarist Sabicas (Agustín Castellón Campos). He later said "I saw her dance and it seemed like something supernatural to me... I never saw anyone dance like her. I don’t know how she did it, I just don’t know!". Sabicas accompanied her for many years.[4] He recorded Queen of the Gypsies (1959) and Flamenco! with Amaya.

In 1929, she made her debut in Paris, to warm acclaims and admiration of her dancing skill. She moved to America in 1936, where she went on to act in several movies that broke box office records, including the Romeo and Juliet adaptation Los Tarantos, and the short movie Danzas Gitanas (Gypsy dances).

Amaya often danced in trousers rather than the layered skirt traditional for female flamenco dancers. One theory is that she did this to give more scope to her footwork, which was exceptional, and rather like a flamenco male dancer. Apparently, in early flamenco, women did not do so much footwork, and male dancers used to fill in the steps while sitting on chairs, unseen in the wings.[4]p100 Her style has been described as repetitive because she always did the same dances: "Carmen was a fabulous dancer, but limited" (Antonio Ruiz Soler).[5]

She was invited by Franklin Roosevelt to dance in the White House in 1944, and also by Harry S. Truman in 1953.

Amaya is buried in the Cementiri del Sud-Oest on Barcelona's Montjuïc.

References[change | change source]

  1. Vila Olímpica Archived 2007-12-06 at the Wayback Machine nowadays.
  2. Clarke, Mary & Crisp, Clement 1981. The history of dance. Orbis, London. p60
  3. Clarke, Mary & Vaughan, David 1977. The encyclopedia of dance & ballet. Pitman, London. p316
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sevilla, Paco 1999. Queen of the gypsies: the life and legend of Carmen Amaya. Sevilla Press. Excerpt by [1] Archived 2003-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Antonio's Memorias, quoted in Paco Sevilla p98.

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Dublin, Anne (2009). Dynamic women dancers. Second Story Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-897187-56-2.
  • Bois, Mario (1994). Carmen Amaya o la danza del fuego. Madrid: Espasa Calpe.
  • Hidalgo Gómez, Francisco (2010). Carmen Amaya. La biografía. Barcelona: Ediciones Carena.
  • Madridejos Mora, Montserrat (2012). El flamenco en la Barcelona de la Exposición Internacional (1929-1930). Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra.
  • Madridejos Mora, Montserrat y David Pérez Merinero (2013), Carmen Amaya. Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra.
  • Montañés, Salvador (1963). Carmen Amaya. La bailaora genial. Barcelona: Ediciones G.P.
  • Pujol Baulenas, Jordi y Carlos García de Olalla (2003). Carmen Amaya. El mar me enseñó a bailar. Barcelona: Almendra Music.
  • Sevilla, Paco (1999). Queen of the gypsies. The Life and legend of Carmen Amaya. San Diego, EE.UU: Sevilla Press.
  • Francisco HIdalgo Gómez (1995). Carmen Amaya: cuando duermo sueño que estoy bailando. Barcelona. Libros PM.
  • Revista de l'Associació d'Investigació i Experimentació Teatral, año 2008 num 66-67

Other websites[change | change source]